STEAM At the “Literacy Is Liberation” Conference


On Saturday, March 12, 2018, the Black Achievement Network (BAN) held a free, one-day conference at Northeastern’s John D. O’Bryant African-American Institute. The goal of the conference was to bring parents, students, practitioners, activists, and researchers together to connect history with the present, and to highlight enduring importance of literacy in each of these struggles. For the conference, I designed a learning experience during lunch entitled “Exhibit Exemplary STEAM for Young Children”.

Creating a Space for Young STEAM Inventors In the Making

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I invited children of all ages to explore the room through stations. One station was for treehouse-building. In the area, I had them draw and design their tree houses, and then use unit blocks to construct their tree houses based on their blueprints. Another station had them building ramps  using the Lego STEAM Park kit and Kapla blocks, and testing them out using the bears in wheelchairs from the Lego kit. The third station had social-emotional role-playing using the Build-Me-Emotions Lego kit. This was a big hit with the parents, especially with parents of multiple children who were interested in exploring conflict resolution and problem-solving activities. On one of the long tables, I set up a station with various engineering challenges. One challenge was to build the alphabet using Legos; another challenge was to use math Unifex cubes to build everyday objects.

To engage the older students, I set up a station with Gadgets & Gizmos kits where they looked at hydrolics and other systems to create structures. In one of the corners, students were invited to interact with the Blocks & Blueprints game. If you are interested in purchasing the game, you should check out the Lakeshore Learning site. Finally, I incorporated art through a painting station that I captured several pictures of. Watch our Young STEAM Inventors engage with the many different challenges and stations I set up in the slideshow below.

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It’s Liberating to Show and to Receive Love

Thanks again to Craig Martin (principal of The Perkins School) for visiting my room, and for the awesome tweet!

Literacy Is Liberation Reading List

I’m including in this post the list of books that I incorporated in my learning space for the conference. I hope that they bring as much enrichment to your students and to your classrooms as they do my own!

  • “Engineering Close-Up” series – Engineers Solve Problems, Engineers Build Models, Engineering In Our Everyday Lives, and How Engineers Find Solutions by Richard and Robin Johnson
  • “Young Engineers” series – Building Bridges, Building Vehicles That Roll, Building Structures and Towers, and Building Vehicles That Fly by Tammy Enz
  • Super Cool Construction Activities with Max Axiom by Tammy Enz
  • What Color Is My World? by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
  • Rosie Revere, Engineer; Iggy Peck, Architect; and Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty
  • What Do You Do With An Idea? by Kobi Yamada
  • The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires
  • The World is Not a Rectangle: A Portrait of Architect Zaha Hadid by Jeanette Winter
  • Tree Houses You Can Actually Build by Jeanie and David Stiles
  • Treehouses Of The World by Pete Nelson
  • Treehouse by Karen Hoenecke
  • The 12-Story Treehouse; The 26-Story Treehouse; and The 39-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths
  • A Walk Through the Woods: A Poetic Journey by Reginald Shelton
  • Up In the Leaves: The True Story of the Central Park Treehouses by Shira Boss
  • My Hair Grows Like a Tree by Tamika Phillip
  • I Am Enough by Keturah Bobo
  • Great Black Heroes: Five Brilliant Scientists by Lynda Jones
  • On the Job With An Architect: Builder of the World by Jake Miller and Susan Gal
  • Block Building For Children: Making Buildings of the World with the Ultimate Construction Toy by Lester Walker
  • Architect Academy by Essi Kimpimaki and Steve Martin

To extend your child’s skills, I encourage you to also check out the Kumon series of workbooks for young children. The titles I have in my collection include My Book of Mazes: Around the WorldMy Book of Mazes: Things that GoScience Pre-K and Up; and My First Book of Tracing.



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